managing growth

Planning to hire someone next year? Unless someone unexpectedly leaves your organization, your next hire will probably be undertaken as part of the plan for future business growth. If you want to take your company from $3 million to $7 million, you’re going to need to create additional positions, hire for those positions and budget for them.

The whole residential construction industry finds itself short of people and scrambling to recruit. Finding salespeople has always been the big challenge—it’s an ongoing struggle filling a position that important with turnover that high—but in many parts of the country, you go to find a technician or to hire a crew, and they’re just not there.

The problem is serious enough that the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) is launching a major initiative—the biggest project the group has put together in decades—to train roofing installers and build a database of trained and certified production personnel who can take those skills and certifications from one employer to the next.

Waiting for Lightning

Hiring is something contractors need to know. Even though they can get good at it, the reality is the typical owner already has about five full-time jobs, and adding a recruiter, hiring manager and onboarding specialist to the rest diminishes the chances of successful recruiting. It’s just not as simple as it used to be. The hiring process we have always had worked this way: We knew we needed more leads, so we budgeted to hire a marketing person or more salespeople. We developed a behavior-based ad, put the ad online, and waited for lightning to strike.

We hoped the perfect person was out there looking for a job and, if we were lucky, we caught them. The problem today is twofold. Unemployment, at 4.1 percent, is at a historic low. There are not a lot of jobless people out there looking. The other problem is that we’re not in a sexy industry. Top-of-the-line marketing people aren’t clamoring to work for a roofing or remodeling company. Our businesses are probably the last place in the world they’d look, if they were looking.

A Different Route

In the last few years, we’ve been advising companies to budget for hiring on an ongoing basis and advertise continuously for new hires, rather than only when you need them. Of course, that has challenges too. First, it gets expensive to be constantly running ads and time-consuming to be interviewing people. But the bigger drawback is that we’re still hoping to find that person who’s looking for a job right now, which doesn’t always happen.

At Certified Contractors Network (CCN) we adopted a new model for finding talent. We are really just taking the head-hunting concept used by every other industry and applying it to contracting. Typically, head hunters in any given industry are constantly contacting people working in that industry to see if they’re interested in other opportunities. Until now, there really hasn’t been anyone doing that in the home improvement industry.

Actively Seeking

What we are doing is going on social media—via platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook—and looking for people who already have jobs but might be interested in moving to another company for a new or better opportunity. People are responding because they’re always looking for new opportunities. There are a lot of people with their eyes and ears open because they might not be happy where they are or because they’re simply ambitious.

We’ve used this method recently to recruit several new people to Maggio Roofing and CCN. For instance, we were looking for a sales representative and put out information via social media, which piqued the interest of a gentleman who was a sales manger at another company 30 miles away. We also hired an IT person who had worked at a very large corporation and brings her considerable tech smarts to Maggio and CCN.

Why It’s Important

Our intention is to roll this out all over the country, which we believe will be a huge thing because it gives us the opportunity to scale our businesses beyond what we would’ve been able to do before.

Business and the contracting industry move in cycles. At the moment we’re in an upward swing. What keeps many companies from growing is they don’t have enough salespeople, or they need to ramp up their marketing efforts by hiring the right people. We’ll either do it for you or teach you how to do it yourself.

The next step is working with those companies to figure out how to retain the people they hire. Most think, If I hire the right person, they’ll just be able to do the job. We used to talk years ago about finding the right salesperson, a “self-starter,” who would just step in, excel and keep doing that. That’s something I’ve learned: It’s not going to happen. Even if they’re good, you have to hold them accountable, support them and teach them whatever they’re going to need to know at a specific time. You have to manage and you have to train if you want people to succeed. If you’re not able to do that, you’re not going to have them for long. |QR

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